Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel – 2 November 2009

PRESENT:  Councillor Wilson in the chair.

Councillors C Sherwood (vice-chairman), Mrs Bromby, Cawsey, Simpson, P Vickers and Whiteley.

Statutory Co-opted Members: Mrs A Dunkerley (Parent Governor Representative) and Mr W Egan and Mrs W Witter (Church Representatives)

Councillor Barker attended the meeting in accordance with Procedure Rule 1.37 (b).

The panel met at Pittwood House, Scunthorpe.

98  DECLARATIONS – OF PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS AND DECLARATIONS OF WHIPPING ARRANGEMENTS (IF ANY) – There were no declarations of personal or personal and prejudicial interests.

No whip was declared.

99  PUBLIC REQUESTS TO SPEAK – There were no requests received

100  A STRATEGY FOR 14-19 YEAR OLD QUALIFICATIONS – Update and presentation from Ken Fielding, Education and Learning Development – The Chair welcomed Ken Fielding to the meeting and invited him to provide an overview of the strategy and how this would impact on students and education facilities within North Lincolnshire.

Ken Fielding explained that central government had received concerns voiced by employers, universities and colleges, that many children were leaving school without being fully prepared for life’s challenges.  The children were not functioning properly within the work places, they had limited understanding of subjects even though they had achieved high grades within their GCSEs and many did not adapt to the changes required for leaving full time education. The panel was advised that the purpose behind the strategy was to equip children with the tools, skills and experience to gain the maximum out of life.

The challenge that the Education and Learning Development team were now faced with was to create clear learning and alternative routes for those students who did not wish to proceed through the traditional education routes of GCSE and A Levels. Evidence supported the concerns that many children were currently forced into pursuing subjects that they did not wish to study, primarily due to the constraints on the current system and format. The panel was advised that the challenge was to provide a wide range of alternative subjects, choices and qualifications, which would include diplomas, foundation learning and, in time young apprenticeship schemes from the age of 14.

It was perceived that this would provide opportunities for those not able to achieve GSCEs, to improve their skills and help them get through school with beneficial personal development, and to encourage them to stay in a training environment.

Members engaged in discussions over where specialist subjects could be delivered, the logistical problems faced by children wishing to take a diploma course and this being delivered from two or more sites. Also, they discussed the impact that this would have on staffing levels within schools and colleges, and the need for more employers to take on apprentices throughout North Lincolnshire.

It was confirmed that a lot of preparation was still needed to be ready for the changes, that parents needed to be aware of these and also that as from 2013 it would be compulsory for children to remain in education and training until they were 18 years old.

Resolved – (a) That Ken Fielding, 14-19 Strategy Coordinator be thanked for his attendance at the meeting and for providing a very informative presentation, and (b) that the position be noted.

101  PLAYBUILDER FUNDING UPDATE – Barry Hutchinson, Assistant Service Director Neighbourhood and Environment and Martin Ely, Playbuilder Project Manager attended the meeting to provide an oral update on the Playbuilder developments.

Barry Hutchinson reported that £1.1million capital funding had been received from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) which was being used to refurbish playgrounds and spaces for the 8 – 13 year age group.  He confirmed that eleven sites had been identified for development, seven owned by North Lincolnshire Council and four owned by Town and Parish Councils.

Martin Ely explained that a great deal of consultation work had been conducted with children, parents, town and parish councils and Neighbourhood Action Teams throughout North Lincolnshire.  Also the use of the Espo framework had assisted with the evaluation of the sites and identification of contractors for the work, and the Acorns Project had assisted greatly throughout this period.

The Panel was advised that through effective negotiations, Martin Ely had successfully secured additional funding from Town and Parish Councils, Housing Developers through section 106 agreements. A successful bid had also been made to Adizone for an outdoor multi use space on Manor Park and a second bid had been submitted.

Members were shown designs approved for the first three developments and were advised that these should be completed by the end of December 2009.

The Panel discussed the timescales for the remaining sites, the tender process that had taken place with Town and Parish Councils and the decision to relocate several of the play areas which had required planning permission.

The Chair thanked Barry Hutchinson and Martin Ely for their contribution to the developments so far and requested that the panel be kept informed of future progress.

Resolved – (a) That Barry Hutchinson and Martin Ely be thanked for their attendance at the meeting, and (b) that the position be noted.

102  (10) LEADER OF THE COUNCIL’S FORWARD PLAN – NOVEMBER 2009 TO FEBRUARY 2010 – The Service Director Legal and Democratic circulated the Leader of North Lincolnshire Council’s Forward Plan for November 2009 to February 2010.

The plan contained details of all matters and issues likely to be the subject of key decisions for a period of the next four months, updated on a monthly basis.  Members discussed various items on the Forward Plan.

Resolved – That the position be noted